37: Hyphen

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 16:12, 9 November 2012 by XERXES.ai (talk | contribs) (Explanation: Clean up, typos fixed: pasttime → pastime)
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I do this constantly
Title text: I do this constantly


This is the first "My Hobby" comic in xkcd. In these comics, Randall suggests an obscure activity or pastime he enjoys which he declares as his "hobby". In the premiere "My Hobby" comic, Randall's hobby is mentally re-interpretting what people mean when they say "[adjective]-ass [noun]" by moving the hyphen to after the word "ass" instead of before.

The semi-scatological suffix "-ass" is used as an intensifier in informal US English speech, usually attached to an adjective directly modifying a noun, as in "big-ass car" or "funny-ass comedian". In this comic, Cueball is exploring the increased humor aspect of changing "-ass" from a suffix modifying the adjective, to "ass-", a prefix modifying the noun, yielding a "big ass-car" or a "funny ass-comedian", the former presumably being a large car for carrying donkeys, the latter being a humorous comedian specializing in jokes about burros. The prefix "ass-" may also have a negative connotation, indicating that something is disliked. An "ass-car" may be a very crappy car, for example.


{Headline: My hobby: whenever anyone calls something an [adjective]-ass [noun], I mentally move the hyphen one word to the right.}
[One man is talking to another about a car that resembles a Volkswagen Beetle]
Man: Man, that's a sweet ass-car.


  • Original comment from Randall: "Tune in Monday for the conclusion to the story of the boy and his barrel." The comic posted on Monday was 25: Barrel - Part 4, which wasn't the conclusion of the story of the boy and his barrel.
  • This is the twenty-fifth comic posted to livejournal. The previous was 23: T-shirts. The next was 25: Barrel - Part 4.

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the later Randall would have used regular expression... ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

There is a community portal discussion of what to call Cueball and what to do in case with more than one Cueball. I have added this comic to the new Category:Multiple Cueballs. Since Cueball has the hobby, I have listed the other as Cueball-like. --Kynde (talk) 14:32, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

Should this be in Category:Substitutions? 23:10, 9 January 2016 (UTC)

No this is not a substitution but a change of what is being said in relation to the placement of the same word. So nothing is substituted, but the hyphen is moved. Not the same. --Kynde (talk) 20:45, 19 July 2016 (UTC)

"Outside of North America, most English speakers use "arse" to mean the buttocks, so to them, it may sound as if Randall's talking about donkeys." is a reasonably amusing joke, but I don't think it really works as part of the explanation as it stands. Can anybody rework it so that it fits better in the explanation flow? 16:52, 9 January 2018 (UTC)